Alan Barrie, Director Operations & Technology at the International Post Corporation, discusses the changing balance between letters and parcels in the current postal market
The current changes that the posts are undergoing are probably the most significant and demanding of all that have gone before, and demand constant change at an operational level.
Most current postal operations were designed to deal with the boom in volumes from the 1970s through to the 1990s, when a lot of fixed capacity physical networks were put in place to deal with the huge expansion in volumes of letter mail.
There was also an important side specialisation that was developed to handle volume parcels (tracked environments, express products, higher priced products, etc), typically B2B, which was the first part of the postal business to be exposed to the full glare of open competition.
However, the era of booming letter volumes has gone into serious reverse, leading to over capacity; and while the B2B parcels segment is still showing healthy growth, the massive volume increase is now to be seen in B2C. Unfortunately, but inevitably, posts are discovering that the legacy networks they have been left with are the wrong ones to deal with today’s operational challenges, yet alone the right ones for tomorrow’s.